Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

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Gio

Working in Pattaya

Monthly Earnings About 64,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I make 50,000 from my regular mid-tier international school job and another 14,000 (give or take) with my private classes.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I put aside about 15 to 20,000 baht a month. This goes towards an annual trip back to the UK, my general future and any emergencies that might come up. I could probably put aside more if I lived more frugally but hey, I didn't come to Pattaya to live like a monk!

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I rent a nice modern studio condo in Jomtien for 12,000 a month. This place is walking distance from the beach and comes with a gym, pool and free housekeeping

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I bought my motorcycle on monthly installments of 3,600. It's a brand new Honda and serves me good for whizzing through the streets of Pattaya or taking trips down the coast. Petrol is about another 1,500-2,000.

Utility bills

About 1,200 to 1,800 depending on how hot the season is.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is one of my guilty pleasures, biggest expenditures and motivations for living in expat-friendly Pattaya.

As my apartment doesn't have a kitchen, I eat out almost every night. Also, I'm not a big fan of Thai food, so I can only really bring myself to eat Thai 3 or 4 nights a week, meaning the other days I cave in to temptation of Western or Japanese food which eats up maybe 10,000 a month. I take trips to Punch and Judy, Carl's jr, Shabushi, pizzerias and various Indian restaurants far too often I admit.

Nightlife and drinking

Another guilty pleasure and motivation for living in Pattaya. Before coming here, I lived in the boonies of Suphanburi where I was the only farang in a 50km radius and the "nightlife" consisted of a bottle of Lao-khao and some mosquitos. Coming to Pattaya with all it's temptations and actually having western friends here is like being in Disneyland.

I tend to go out about 3 times a month on Walking Street or some other part of Pattaya. Some nights I'll only spend a couple of hundred while others I can spend up to 3,000 or 4,000 depending on how much I want to drink or whether I want "company". Also, we sometimes go away on weekends away to Bangkok or Koh Samet. Because of this, I'll put my nightlife budget at the higher end estimate of 15,000

Books, computers

I have a trustly laptop that sees me through for work, while books and other materials I "borrow" from school so I don't spend anything on this.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I have a great life at the moment. As a young, single dude with a good bunch of mates, I have a standard of living I'd never have back in the UK. My job is really good fun, I teach English and PE to primary school kids of all different backgrounds (as to be expected in international Pattaya).

On a typical day, I get to school for 8am, teach four classes and I'm always out of work by 4:30 pm at the latest. I'll go home, jump in the pool, change and go grab some dinner. At weekends, I'll go out in town or travel somewhere. It's also just about the best place in the world to be a single dude and to think I used to work double the hours, pay thrice as much for everything, be far more stressed and spend a fortune on dull nightlife in the freezing cold UK makes me laugh.

I'm sure at some point, I'll want to move to greener pastures and "plant my stake and settle". But for now, I'm happy where I am.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Accommodation for sure. I could never dream of having a condo like I do back in the UK, especially at this cost. Transport is really cheap as are general services. The nightlife is also far more affordable than the UK where clubs charge you crazy cover charges before you even get in.

Also travelling is a bargain. AirAsia and Lionair are really cheap and I regularly take trips out of Thailand to other countries.

The only things that are costlier are electronics and Western food.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Really, it all depends on you. I'm sure you can survive on 25k in Pattaya but thats just that- surviving. That would basically mean living in a grubby, Thai style apartment in a far flung part of the dark side with your neighbours being a pot bellied, chain smoking, drug addict from Germany who ignores you and a vendor who starts banging about and playing awful Thai music at 6am.

You'll eat rice every day and look on in jealousy as everyone else heads out to have a great time on Walking Street while you're wondering if you have enough pennies to eat for the rest of the month. Certainly not the lifestyle most expats want in Pattaya.

Really, to have a half way decent life with an apartment that isn't a fleapit, occasional Western meals and the odd night out here and there, I'd say you'd need at least 35,000 a month but really, it is all down to you, your lifestyle, needs, expectations and how well you budget.

Pattaya certainly isn't for everyone but it really does have something for every budget.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Gio. Always interesting to get a cost of living survey from someone living and teaching in Pattaya, because let's face it, there's nowhere in Thailand quite like Pattaya when it comes to Western temptation in all its many guises.  It certainly sounds as though you enjoy life well on 64,000 a month - nice accommodation near the beach, nights out whenever you want, plenty of Thai and Western food, and you still manage to pocket 15-20K at the end of each month. Can't be bad. 


Rick

Working in Ayutthaya

Monthly Earnings 50,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

My full-time salary is 45,000 and I make 5,000 from other sources.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

If I really try I can save 35,000 to 40,000 but it's usually around 20-25,000. It depends on how often I go out or how busy I am.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

Nothing. My girlfriend owns the house.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

Probably 500 baht on fuel for the bike. Another one or two thousand baht for transport around Thailand (this increases during school holidays).

Utility bills

650 baht for internet, up to 1,500 baht for power and 200 baht or so for water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

If I go out a few times a month, this can be up to 5,000 but usually 2-3,000 on restaurants and supermarket shopping. My girlfriend cooks at home mostly so that saves me a ton of money.

Nightlife and drinking

If I go out properly (to Bangkok or Pattaya, etc) I spend loads. So depending how often can mean between 5,000 and as much as 20,000.

Books, computers

Very little, if any.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Awesome, a lovely lifestyle with nice options to expand everywhere.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Fresh food in markets and public transport (including flights)

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

20,000 to survive and have a decent existence. But above 35,000 and if you have your affairs in order and an eye on your finances, you won't go far wrong

Phil's analysis and comment

Nice one Rick. So your girlfriend owns the house (always nice when there are no rental costs to worry about) and most times, she cooks at home and saves you even more money in the process. She sounds like a keeper! 


Chris

Working in Mukdahan

Monthly Earnings 35,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

35,000 baht is my salary from the government school I teach at.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

If I'm being strict with myself I can save 20,000 a month. That would mean no drinking or unnecessary expenditure. A more realistic sum for me to save is 10,000 - 15,000 a month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I pay 5,000 baht a month for an unfurnished two-bedroom house. Furnished apartments can be got for about 3,500 baht a month including internet, but they usually have inflated utility bills.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I bought my own bike to use as my transport. I think I spend roughly 500 baht a month on fuel.

Utility bills

I pay all my bills directly myself:

Electricity - 1,200 baht a month. I use the air-con a LOT. I know the person who lived here before me and they usually paid 500-600 a month.
Internet - 1,300 baht a month for blazing fast 200 megabit internet.
Water - 80 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I probably spend in the region of 8,000 - 10,000 a month all in. If I am working I will spend about 200 baht a day on food. The food in the school canteen is the same as good street food and can be very affordable. I spend roughly 100 baht at school, and then another 100 baht at the local night market. This buys me a LOT of food. Let's just say I am a very BIG boy. So about 6,000 baht a month on day to day shopping.

I also do a monthly shop at Makro where I will get my western treats. This is when I buy my cheese, chips/french fries, and chicken wings/pork burgers. Apart from the cheese I constantly mix things up, combined everything usually comes to about 2,000.

Food is an area I could save big on if I wanted, I have worked out I could halve my food bill if I needed to. But at the minute I don't need to, so I just enjoy what Thailand has to offer.

Nightlife and drinking

200 baht maybe? I don't go out drinking and quit smoking. That has saved me 4,500 baht a month on its own. (I was drinking 2 big bottles of Chang and smoking 20 S&M a day)

I buy myself the odd bottle of beer every once in a while, but that isn't even monthly. Food is the only vice I have.

Books, computers

3,000 - 5,000 baht.

I just recently bought myself a new set of electronic gadgets, so I don't see myself needing to spend anything on them. But I am a keen gamer and usually buy myself at least one game a month.

I also have a Kindle, so I spend a minimal amount of money on books as I have a collection of over 8,000 I downloaded a few years ago. But if something is on offer for 99p in the Kindle store or hard to find for 'free' then I will buy it.

This money is the other area that is surplus money. I could cut this spending out if I wanted to, but now that I don't spend money going out drinking, this is my entertainment money.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

My standard of living is really good. I love my job, and I can pretty much buy what I want now. Back when I was living in the UK I was constantly thinking about money, and whether I could afford something. Now that isn't really an issue anymore.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Everything. I moved from London, UK to Thailand so all the prices seem incredible to me.

Rent and food are the ones I appreciate the most though. In London I had a room in a shared house and I was spending 5 times as much as I do now for my two-bedroom house.

My food bill in the UK would be far higher than it is here, and I don't usually cook for myself here either! Being fat I will regularly buy myself two portions which I think is the real equivalent to a UK take-out meal. But it still only works out at 80 baht (or about £2) for my meal.

My students are constantly amazed when I tell them that pork fried rice can easily cost 300 baht (£7) in the UK.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

This is the big question here in Thailand as answers vary so much. Part of that is people's understanding of 'survive'. So I'm going to give two answers, and both of these relate to Mukdahan and Issan in general, I'm sure in the more touristy areas things are more expensive and numbers would differ. I'm also single which obviously has a big impact as well.

To survive I think you can live off 15,000 a month. That will pay your bills, feed you and give you a very small amount of monthly spending money. However, you're not going to be saving anything, and unless you're like me and absolutely love teaching you're not going to have a good time. In the UK I was taking home 46,250 baht to be living this kind of lifestyle

Now, if you want to be able to save a bit of money and enjoy life then I would say that 30,000 would be my minimum. At the minute I spend roughly 20,000 a month. So at 30,000 a month I would be saving 10,000 a month which I think is a reasonable amount.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Chris. That's a nice comparison between life in London (which is of course a law unto itself when it comes to living in the UK) and life in North-East Thailand. It sounds like you are much happier where you are now. And if you could cut down on that considerable food bill, you would save even more - and probably get healthier into the bargain!  


Baron

Working in Nakhon Pathom

Monthly Earnings 164,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I receive a salary of 54,000 a month and this includes a housing allowance of 8,000. I tutor for groups as well and a group of students can pay in excess of 1,200 baht per hour. Tutoring income averages 30,000 per month. I also receive 80,000 in passive income from investment properties in my home country.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

This is kind of skewed, since I receive passive income from my home country. As an aggregate amount, I can save between 110,000 and 130,000 per month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I have a newer three-bedroom / two-bathroom townhouse near the school. I pay 10,000 per month.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

After nearly two years here, I decided to buy a car. The payment is 6,000 a month. I also have a motorbike that I bought with cash. Usually I spend 2,000 a month on gas. I don't live far from the school.

Utility bills

I do pay a lot for utilities, as I use my air conditioning without remorse. It runs around 2,500 to 3,000 a month. My phone is prepaid, so that's 550 baht per month. Water is cheap, around 200 baht a month. Internet and cable is a bit high, 1,400 baht per month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

There is a local lady who shops, cooks, washes/presses clothes, and cleans my townhouse for a flat fee every week. So the grocery bill every week is 1,000 baht. This gets my son and I home cooked Thai food every night and a clean house. We rarely eat out as I don't like processed food.

Nightlife and drinking

As far as nightlife goes, I am in bed at 10. I did not come here for that sort of lifestyle. If I do drink, it is a glass of wine (or two).

Books, computers

I brought over a new laptop from the States. I will be buying a new one this year. I like the idea of having a laptop at work and home. That way I don't look like a "falang" teacher with a backpack! As far as reading, I download many books from pdfdrive. I also have a subscription on Amazon. I bought a new tablet last year. A friend brought it to me when they visited the US.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Simply amazing. We eat better, live comparably, and travel more here than we could ever do in the US. Here, I have a total of three months off per year. That doesn't even include the personal and sick days I have in my contract. In the US, I got two weeks (I never got to use) of vacation per year.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Bargain? Everything except Western goods. This would include laptops (made in China), tablets, cars, some furniture, name brand clothing and shoes.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I have read nearly every posting in this section for the last two and a half years. I started following it before I came to Thailand. There are many factors to consider when answering this question. My costs are little bit higher, as my son is here with me. If I were alone, I would have a place that costs less and food costs would be lower. Air conditioning would be lower as well.

I am not in Bangkok, therefore the cost of living is lower. I have bought food here and in Bangkok and I can honestly say I have paid twice as much in Bangkok for the exact same food. My townhouse would cost 2-3 times my current rate as well. If I had to pick a number, for my area, I know several teachers doing "OK" on 30,000 baht a month.

A note to readers out there. I am not a "school" trained teacher. My degree is in business administration. I am also a 20 year veteran of the military, a training officer. Come here with the right attitude, and you can make good money.

Phil's analysis and comment

Interesting survey, Baron. When I read that you were earning 164,000 a month in Nakhon Pathom, my first thoughts were 'well, that's almost enough money to BUY Nakhon Pathom'. Joking apart. it sounds like you have more money than you'll ever need. I'm just wondering 'why Nakhon Pathom?' unless of course you came for a no-frills, peaceful Thai lifestyle because no disrespect to the town - it's a pretty quiet backwater. 

Putting the 80,000 baht 'passive income' aside, your 84,000 teaching income is still enough to live like a king. So not surprised you have a local lady who takes care of all the cleaning, washing, cooking, etc. In your position, I'd do exactly the same.   



Terry

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 105,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

That is my full-time monthly wage (including a housing allowance) at an international school. Also inclusive of health insurance and return flights to the UK. I've had opportunities to do private lessons but I really appreciate my time off and it doesn't seem worth it.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

At the moment I'm not saving anything as I have a new born baby with all the extra costs that includes. Also my partner is not working full-time anymore. Before that I could easily have saved 10,000-30,000 depending on how luxurious a month it was.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a large 1-bedroom condo for 25,000 downtown. It is an older building but for the huge 100 square metre space, it is a great deal. I used to live in smaller trendier condos but it just wasn't feasible once the baby came along.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

About 8,000 a month on taxis to work and weekend trips to various places in the city.

Utility bills

Electric is around 3,000-4,000 per month. Internet and phone costs around 2,500 per month. I can't remember water charges but it is very low. Maybe 100 baht per month, possibly less.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I spend less than I used to on my own food. During the week I budget 300 baht per day. I get school lunch subsidised by the school. Some days I spend more and some days less. Weekends can be a lot more. Probably I average 1,000 per day on food at weekends by going to nicer restaurants and ordering in food.

Nightlife and drinking

I'll usually have a night in a pub at weekends with quite a few beers. Usually this will be about 1,500 baht. Depending on the place this could be a few hundred more or less. During the week I sometimes have a couple of beers in cheaper Thai places along with food. It's much better value costing only around 300 baht.

Books, computers

I wouldn't put anything here as a regular cost. Occasionally I will purchase a new phone, laptop, PC parts, repair a device etc. This can range anything from 1,000 to 30,000. But not regular expenditure.
I usually borrow books or download them but occasionally buy something in the bigger mall bookstores.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Before I had a baby I would have said I had a fantastic standard of living in Thailand, especially in comparison to my standard of living in the UK as a teacher. However, since having a baby and having just one income in the household, I am starting to feel the pinch financially as I can't really save money easily like before without cutting some luxuries from my life. It is still much better than how I would be living in the UK though.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Rent is a real bargain considering the central locations you can live in Bangkok and the comparative price in Western cities. Transport around Thailand and in Bangkok is extremely cheap also.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

To just survive as a single person with no dependents I think 30,000 would probably be enough. It wouldn't be a great existence though! However it's all subjective. For me, after recently having a baby, my wage is not enough as I want save money and maintain a nice lifestyle. Most likely I will be moving on from Thailand to do that.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Terry. I've always said that the decision of whether or not to have children is one of the biggest choices you make in life (if not THE biggest). My brother has two kids and with them comes a whole heap of financial responsibility. It simply means you have to cut your cloth accordingly. It's a shame in a way that you are feeling the pinch because 105K a month is a very decent salary - and it's not like you spend excessively in other areas. You could take on some extra work to earn more money, but like you say, you appreciate the time off. There's more to life than working all the hours godsend if your heart isn't really in it. Anyway, good luck to you mate!    


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 272 total

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